Me and Orson Welles
George Constantin on
July 27, 2010
Madman presents a film directed by
Holly Gent Palmo, Vincent Palmo
Robert Kaplow’s novel
Zac Efron, Christian McKay, Claire Danes, Ben Chaplin, James Tupper,
Eddie Marsan, Leo Bill
July 29, 2010
To portray the life of a man who was
one of the greatest artistic geniuses of the twentieth century, having
been among other things, a theatrical actor, director, producer, radio
star, filmmaker, actor, philosopher and magician is a tall order, to say
the least. Orson Welles was a freak of nature. After frightening the
daylights out of millions of American listeners with his legendary War
of the Worlds broadcast, he would later produce, direct, and star in
Citizen Kane, one of the greatest motion picture ever made, and all
before he turned 25.
Christian McKay uncannily evokes the charisma and brilliance of Orson
Richard Linklater’s film is set in the
New York of 1937. The story revolves around 18-year old high school
student, Richard Samuels (Zac Efron), who, through a chance meeting with
the great Welles (brilliantly played by newcomer Christian McKay),
scores a bit part in his new production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
The play will be opening at the Mercury Theatre within days. There he
becomes enamoured with the production’s assistant, Sonja Jones (Claire
Danes), an ambitious woman who mutters about David O. Selznick and
dreams of hitting the big time. Complications ensue as Orson ’s
womanizing, ego, and relentless pursuit of control strains rehearsals of
the famed modernist production (one that also features a young Joseph
Cotton convincingly portrayed by James Tupper).
Me and Orson Welles hits all the right
notes. It has a great cast, a script that’s full of wit and humour, and
all the markings of a future classic. Zac Efron and Claire Danes are
perfectly cast, and provide excellent performances. The supporting cast
of Ben Chaplin as George Coulouris, Tupper as the playful Cotton, and
Eddie Marsan as producer John Houseman.
Above all, what will be remembered the most
about Me and Orson Welles is Christian McKay’s magnificent portrayal of
the title role. It is truly remarkable, and an absolute delight to
Mr Welles would have been proud.